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DCN Girls Athlete of the Year: Abby Felkai’s relentless energy helped bring the volleyball program back to the state playoffs
Abby Felkai is the 2023 DCN Girls Athlete of the Year. - photo by Rio White

Coming into the 2022 volleyball season, head coach Tanya Porter knew she had a talented squad that had one goal in mind — returning to the state playoffs after an early end to the 2021 campaign.

But before the Lady Tigers set out to play in a tough region that had two of Class 3A's strongest sides in White County and Wesleyan, Porter had to make a significant change to her lineup.

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DCN 2023 Athlete of the Year

Abby Felkai, a charismatic setter by trade, first joined Dawson’s roster in 2021 after moving to the North Georgia mountains from Ontario, Canada.

Quickly making an impact in her first season, she was asked by Porter to take a more aggressive scoring role for her senior year in 2022.

And did she ever.

382 kills, 297 digs and 79 aces later, Felkai became a First Team All-Region choice and helped steer the team back to the state playoffs.

But her stats only tell part of the story.

While Felkai became the team’s most conspicuous player in her new role as an outside hitter, her ability to be a great teammate and elevate those around her never wavered. 

She partnered up with setter Kirklyn Porter — who herself had a stellar season after returning to the team — to create one of the most formidable one-two punches in the region.

“I was proud of her for making the most of it,” Porter said of Felkai’s position change. “She’s used to being on the setting side of things and making everybody else look good. But she can do both, which is really a great attribute for her.”

And after every point, set and match, her voice could be heard around the entire gym as she encouraged her teammates in any way she could.

With her contributions as both a great player and leader came a unique identity for the 2022 Lady Tigers — one that saw the team fight tooth and nail against every opponent while radiating a certain closeness.

“We understand that there is competition with every team we play and that we need to respect each opponent,” Felkai said during the season. “But we’re coming together and truly believe there’s no team that can take us down if we’re playing the way we need to play.”

Eventually, the team put together a 26-win season that included wins against rivals Lumpkin County and eventual state semifinalist White County. 

After finishing third in the region tournament, the Lady Tigers clinched a state playoff berth — completing their season-long task. 

Felkai’s years of training and accomplishments on the high school and club levels eventually earned her a chance to play Division I college volleyball — signing with Lehigh University earlier this school year.